The Buffalo Bills spent their third-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft on another defender, taking Ohio State defensive tackle Adolphus Washington. How does his skill set fit with the Bills? Here's our breakdown.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Washington played football and basketball at Robert Taft IT High School. As a senior, he had 90 tackles and 23.5 sacks, and was named the Ohio high school basketball player of the year. A five-star defensive end recruit, he committed to Ohio State on a scholarship. He started out as a defensive end for the Buckeyes, and had nine tackles and three sacks in his freshman year. He started five games the following year, recording 36 tackles and two sacks. Heading into his junior season, the Buckeyes started moving him inside, and he played some three-technique and some nose tackle for the rest of his career, collecting 4.5 sacks in 2014 and four sacks in 2015.
The tackle made headlines when he was suspended from Ohio State's bowl game this year after being arrested for soliciting a prostitute, who was actually an undercover Ohio police officer. This won't affect anything with the start of his NFL career, but it's a mark on his character.
Washington is a player who earned his draft position mainly through his play on the football field. While the 6'3", 300-pound defensive lineman has very long (34.5-inch) arms, he had one of the weakest Combine workouts of any defensive tackle. His 5.17-second 40-yard dash was subpar, and that was his best result. The 27-inch vertical, 8'3" broad jump, and 8.06-second three-cone drill were particularly bad. He's a little faster on the football field, but you can tell that he doesn't have the explosion of a guy like Hassan Ridgeway or Javon Hargrave.
Run defense and block shedding
When Washington sinks his hips and uses his arms well, he's capable of generating plenty of force, even against a double team. I imagine that might be what the Bills are looking at, hoping to find a potential two-gap player for the defensive line. He has good strength, although his anchor is inconsistent. Washington plays with a high pad level, and he doesn't keep his feet square to his opponent. I've often seen him turned (or possibly trying a not-too-great spin move), which costs him leverage and lands him on his back.
Washington doesn't have a strong punch, and it's tough for him to win at the point of attack against most linemen. Right now, the best trait he can count on is his ability to occupy multiple opponents with his length.
One good trait with Washington's block-shedding is that he moves comfortably through a scrum. If his linemen are wreaking havoc, he can sometimes take advantage to win his one-on-one battle and generate more pressure.
Pass rush refinement and creativity
Washington has flashed the occasional swim move and club move, but his pass rush is inconsistent and underdeveloped right now. He doesn't have a fast first step, and I don't think he has a solid plan of attack for most opponents. The problem with his lousy spin move (which costs him leverage) also comes up in his pass rushing. I didn't see any tangible bull rush from his game.
Despite his reputation in college, Washington never really was a very productive pass rusher, and his athletic numbers would back that up. Improving his balance would help him tremendously.
Fluidity in space
Washington's not particularly fast or agile in an open area, but he can make plays in a phone booth. Don't ask him to chase a player to the sidelines, but he's capable of cleaning up if an opponent is flushed into his zone.
The Bills have set a recent trend of making third-round picks that I wouldn't necessarily agree with. In 2014, Preston Brown was one of my preferred run-stuffing linebackers, but I had him valued in the fifth round. Last year's pick, John Miller, was in the same boat - a versatile guard without many exceptional traits that I was grading as a third-day pick. My grade for Washington is a little higher, but I still feel like the Bills could have found better value for this investment.
Right now, Washington is a rotational-quality player who might someday be able to develop into a starter if he can improve his balance and develop a bull rush. The Bills are high on him, but I don't feel the same way. In what I consider to be an otherwise stellar draft for the team, Washington is my main question mark.